They couldn’t be separated in normal time and were still level after extra-time so the U21s from Mayo and Donegal had to settle for a draw at the end of this afternoon’s North-West Cup final. The match was played in what sounded like atrocious conditions at Sligo GAA’s Centre of Excellence in Scardan and it finished 1-9 apiece after extra-time, with the score at 1-7 each at the end of normal time.
Donegal were missing a number of players who were involved in the Round 3 match between the two counties played last weekend and we had plenty of changes from then too, with Matthew Flanagan, Seamus Cunniffe, James Kelly, Sharoize Akram, Padraig Prendergast, Matthew Ruane and Liam Irwin all featuring from the start today.
With the rain spilling down from the off, we got the perfect start in the form of a point by Liam Irwin and a goal from wing-back Barry Duffy. Donegal had the next three points but Barry Duffy then extended our lead though this was clipped back to two, on a scoreline of 1-3 to 0-4, at the break.
Donegal reduced our lead to the bare minimum early in the second half but two Liam Irwin frees put us a goal clear. They nicked one back but another Liam Irwin free restored our three-point lead. When Donegal’s Eamon Martin was ordered off on two yellows with ten minutes to go and Liam Irwin pointed another free it looked like our name was on this inaugural North-West Cup.
The Ulster lads had, however, other ideas. We’d just had James Kelly dismissed on two yellows when Hugh Boyle lobbed Matthew Flanagan for an injury-time goal that gave Donegal a late, late lifeline. They made the most of it too, with John Campbell pointing a free to send the game into extra-time.
It looked like we’d missed the proverbial boat when Donegal went into a two-point lead, an advantage they held at the end of the first period of extra-time. Points in the second period of extra-time from Brian Reape and Mikey Murray got us back level and that’s how it ended.
There was, according to @MayoGAA, some talk of playing even more extra-time but the same source later reported that wiser counsel had eventually prevailed and so the destination of the cup will be decided by a replay at a date and time to be confirmed.
Match report, from a Donegal perspective, on today’s decider is here.